Massive spike in the number of Sheffield drivers travelling to London to obtain taxi licenses has sparked further concern over regulations
Figures supplied to the Sheffield newspaper, The Star by the GMB union show in the last six months – the number of drivers with a Sheffield postcode that holds a Transport for London private hire licenses has risen from 53 to 177 – a massive 330 per cent increase.
In September 2016, The Star revealed over 700 taxi drivers that reside in Sheffield were handed licenses from councils as far as Wales and Lancashire – over 400 of which came from the town of Rossendale near Blackburn.
GMB rep and Sheffield licensed taxi driver Ibrar Hussain has been campaigning on this issue calling for stricter regulation on cross-border taxi licensing.
He said: “There is a lack of enforcement or no enforcement at all as to who’s driving these vehicles. Are they fit and proper? Are the vehicles safe to drive? Why live in Sheffield, but get licence from TfL?
Mr Hussain has been joined by senior council figures and Sheffield MPs on lobbying the Government to change the law
At present, a driver who lives in Sheffield can approach Transport for London for a private hire vehicle licence and come back to Sheffield to operate in the city with a number of firms. Because the driver is licensed elsewhere in the country, Sheffield Council has limited powers to take enforcement action if needed.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said: “Sheffield Council prides itself on its strict licensing and rigorous training conditions which help keep taxi users in our city safe. But the change in the law is riding roughshod over these protections meaning drivers from across the country can get a licence from areas with different standards and requirements and still operate in Sheffield.
“We have been warning the Government about this for months and these troubling new figures show it is now time to take action. Sheffield Council should decide who can and can’t operate a taxi in our city, not some council hundreds of miles away who haven’t the first idea about what protections Sheffield needs.” Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: He said: “I warned the Government that this would happen back in 2014 when they proposed the new rules, and I’ve pressed the case with Ministers since then.
“Allowing drivers to register anywhere in the country undermines Sheffield Council’s tough approach to regulation, putting passengers at risk. The Government is putting ideology ahead of common sense on the deregulation of taxi licensing.”